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December 17 in Portland: Dark Waters Film Screening and Panel Discussion to Address Toxic Chemical Pollution in Maine and Nationwide

Environmental Health Strategy Center
12.09.2019

Starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway, the David-and-Goliath story about toxic PFAS contamination is all-too-familiar story for some in Maine

PORTLAND—Health advocates and experts will convene at Portland’s Nickelodeon Theater on Tuesday, December 17 for a 6:30pm panel discussion and film screening of Dark Waters, the Hollywood adaptation of the true David-and-Goliath story of a small West Virginia town that took on the multinational chemical company DuPont for poisoning their drinking water with toxic chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).

The pre-film panel discussion will highlight the film’s connection to local efforts in Maine to tackle the problem of PFAS pollution in drinking water, food, and farmland. The event will also provide opportunities for Mainers to advocate for state action to protect their health and Maine’s environment from these dangerous chemicals.

WHAT: Panel discussion about PFAS contamination in Maine and film screening of Dark Waters

WHEN: Tuesday, December 17, 6:30pm

WHO: The panel will be moderated by Patrick MacRoy, Deputy Director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center. Speakers include Dana Colihan, Maine Community Organizer at Toxics Action Center; Dr. Lani Graham, MD, MPH, family physician and public health expert representing the Maine Public Health Association; Maine Representative Henry Ingwersen, D-Arundel; and Phelps Turner, Senior Attorney for Conservation Law Foundation Maine.

TICKETS: Tickets are $10 each, $8 for students. Purchase tickets at http://bit.ly/DarkWatersFilm.

(Please scroll to bottom for full bios of all speakers and organizations.)

BACKGROUND:

Mainers may be familiar with PFAS pollution through the story of Arundel dairy farmer Fred Stone, whose livelihood was destroyed when these toxic industrial chemicals were discovered in his milk and cows as a result of contaminated sewage sludge spread as fertilizer—a still-common practice in all 50 U.S. states. Recently, a report from the Maine Center for Disease Control (Maine CDC) announced that the agency had discovered toxic PFAS in several communities’ public water supplies, including those serving schools and a preschool.

PFAS are used in nonstick coatings in many consumer products as well as firefighting foams, and PFAS exposure is linked to thyroid and liver dysfunction, certain cancers, infertility, and harm to the brain development of young children. Some PFAS persist in human bodies and the environment for years, and even decades. They are so ubiquitous that over 97 percent of Americans have PFAS in their bloodstream—including newborn babies.

Governor Janet Mills has convened a task force to examine the problem of PFAS pollution of soil, food, and water in Maine, and to make recommendations to protect public health and the environment. The task force’s final recommendations are expected by the end of December.

The Maine Legislature this year passed a first-in-the-nation law to phase out PFAS and phthalates from food packaging, where PFAS is commonly used in grease-resistant coatings on takeout and fast-food containers.

PANEL SPEAKER BIOS:

Panel discussion moderator Patrick MacRoy is the Deputy Director of the Portland-based health advocacy group the Environmental Health Strategy Center.

Dana Colihan is the Maine Community Organizer at Toxics Action Center where she trains everyday people with the know-how anyone would need to make changes in their own backyard.

Dr. Lani Graham, MD, MPH, is a family physician and former public health official who has devoted her career to defending public health and the environment. Dr. Graham is a member of Governor Janet Mills’ PFAS task force, which will advise the Governor with recommendations to tackle the problem of toxic PFAS contamination in food, water, and soil.

Representative Henry Ingwersen represents Arundel, Dayton and part of Lyman in the Maine State House. Dairy farmer Fred Stone, who is facing disastrous PFAS contamination of his family farm in Arundel, is a constituent of Rep. Ingwersen.

Phelps Turner is a Senior Attorney for Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) Maine, where he works in the Clean Energy & Climate Change and Healthy Communities & Environmental Justice programs.

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The Environmental Health Strategy Center works to create a world where all people are healthy and thriving, with equal access to safe food and drinking water, and products that are toxic-free and climate-friendly.

Toxics Action Center’s mission is to work side-by-side with communities, empowering you with the skills and resources needed to prevent or clean up pollution at the local level.

The Maine Public Health Association advocates, acts and advises on critical public health challenges, assuring that all Maine residents lead healthy lives, regardless of their income or where they live.

Conservation Law Foundation protects New England’s environment for the benefit of all people. We use the law, science and the market to create solutions that preserve our natural resources, build healthy communities, and sustain a vibrant economy.